Can all small mammals eat the same food?
Small mammals, also referred to as small furries, such as rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs, are some of the most popular pets in the UK. However, despite being grouped together based on their size, they have different nutritional needs. In the wild small mammals live in different climates and naturally eat different foods. In fact, food suitable for one species can be totally unsuitable for another, with some of them only feeding on plants and others relying on animal proteins in their diet. In this factsheet, the difference between herbivores, carnivores and omnivores are explained and pet owners are encouraged to seek reliable nutritional advice, specific to their pet type. This will help providing a balanced diet, a significant contributor to a healthy happy pet.
Different Nutritional Needs
Herbivores such as rabbits, guinea pigs, degus and chinchillas are animals that only eat grass and plant-based food. All herbivorous small mammals need plenty of good quality fresh hay and/or grass on a daily basis. In fact this is an essential part of their diet to keep their digestive system and teeth healthy. Check our Hay Poster for more information and as a handy reminder of the importance of hay. www.pfma.org.uk/the-importance-ofhay-poster
Alongside their daily portion of good quality hay, which as a general rule should be a serving around the same size as their body, they should also be fed a portion of species-specific pet food. When fed alongside hay and/or grass, a product designed for their species will ensure they are getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need. A small handful of suitable fresh herbs or leafy green vegetables can also be given occasionally to provide variety in their diet and behavioural enrichment.
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How important is water?
Drinking water is incredibly important and a constant supply of clean fresh water should always be
available to your pet. Specially designed bottles with metal spouts are a good option but some animals prefer to drink from a heavy bowl. So why not try offering your pet both and see which they prefer. Any water spillage should be cleared up so that your pet’s bedding stays clean and dry.
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